Editorial: GSTA Day of Silence proves MSHS Less Accepting than Expected


Hanna Kimmett (12) participated during The Day of Silence.

Lily Reavis, Editor-in-Chief

On April 15, the Manitou Springs High School Gay Straight Trans* Alliance (GSTA) participated in the national Day of Silence, an annual event meant to bring attention to LGBTQ+ bullying and harassment in schools. Members of the GSTA wore purple and stayed silent throughout the day in a show of solidarity with those who face abuse due to their identities on the LGBTQ+ spectrum.

At lunch, the participating GSTA members stood in the high school commons, holding signs with statistics of bullying and harassment of LGBTQ+ people. During the silent protest, a few members of the GSTA broke their silent streak in order to tell passerby about the event.

During lunch, there were whispers throughout the commons, mocking the GSTA students in incredibly derogatory ways. Several members noted that their classmates made jokes about their identities without actually taking the time to confront them.

After the demonstration, several MSHS students took to social media to bash the GSTA. Although no students spoke up during the demonstration, large groups of students congregated online to take issue with the Day of Silence.

The posts on social media contained everything from gross, over-used slurs against homosexual and transgendered individuals, to declarations of religious intolerance.

Some said that, as a school, Manitou should hold days to honor military service members instead of people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum. Others claimed that suicide and other issues that were presented during the Day of Silence were issues facing the general population, so it would be better to have a day to memorialize all victims of such events.

Perhaps the loudest complaint was that, by participating in the Day of Silence and the lunchtime silent protest, the GSTA was shoving their “agenda” down students’ throats. Many people claimed that their religious beliefs were being disrespected.

As a member of the GSTA who participated in the Day of Silence, these social media posts seem more like attacks to the people in the GSTA, than legitimate concerns with the events of April 15.

The number of students who I had previously thought to be allies that participated in the posting completely astounded me. Students who said that they supported us during the day were now completely against us.

It is true that suicide doesn’t only apply to the LGBTQ+ community. However, the Day of Silence is a nationally-practiced annual event to highlight such issues within the community. No one is stopping other students at Manitou Springs High School from mourning the death of people who have committed suicide, or organizing an event in memoriam of such people. In fact, the school participates in World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10 annually, and it is a large event.

Furthermore, there is already a widely-recognized day that serves to honor military service members. It’s called Memorial Day. If  any students wanted to create a day to honor the same people during the school year, they have the freedom to do so. The GSTA asked for approval from the school before putting on their Day of Silence, and other groups or clubs could do the same for their own issues.

The GSTA stands as an alliance for people of all genders and sexualities. The people who make up the club often know how oppression feels and will do whatever it takes to make sure others aren’t being discriminated against. Therefor, the argument of religious intolerance is not only absolutely obscene, it is an insult to the entire group of students who are involved in the GSTA. Furthermore, as GSTA president Wyatt Fries (12) pointed out, several members of the GSTA, including himself, share a religion with the students who claimed such intolerance.

The comments that were made via social media concerning the GSTA’s Day of Silence prove that Manitou Springs High School is a less accepting community than was previously thought. Some students share homophobic and transphobic ideas without the least bit of contempt, and refuse to acknowledge their disrespect. Several GSTA members said that they had never felt so hated by so many people before, after reading what their peers had to say online.

These events prove, more than any other event that has taken place in Manitou Springs High School, that it is vital that people educate themselves about the minority around them. It speaks to the fact that many of Manitou’s students are privileged enough to never have to consider several of the issues that people on the LGBTQ+ spectrum face every day.

In order to create an accepting and safe community for all members of the high school, it is imperative that these students are educated about LGBTQ+ issues. As several GSTA members pointed out, they would love to not be the minority. Because they are, they have to defend themselves and their rights, and it is important that the people surrounding them agree that they should be accepted and respected.